United Nations, Feb 28: After the sudden departure of environmentalist Rajendra K. Pachauri as chairperson of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN climate panel is preparing for a new leadership and plans on another assessment of climate science.
Pachauri is under investigation following allegations that he sexually harassed a colleague at The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in New Delhi. Pachauri has denied the allegations against him, but proceeded on leave from TERI, where he was director general.
He also did not attend the key IPCC meeting in Nairobi that was organised February 24-27.
"We cannot ignore the resignation of Dr. Pachauri, but the allegations against him do not relate to the IPCC," said IPCC secretary Renate Christ said during a press conference.
The IPCC will, however, ensure that the institution maintains an atmosphere in which "everyone's rights are respected and upheld", said Christ.
At Nairobi meeting, the IPCC made several minor adjustments to the assessment process that are intended to engage more scientists in the developing world, including increasing their representation on the body's governing bureau.
But the basic framework -- a single comprehensive assessment to be published within five-seven years plus two or three special reports on specific topics -- did not change.
The fifth and most recent IPCC climate assessment, which was completed last year, concluded that it is "extremely likely" that humans are responsible for the bulk of the recent warming.
"The overall structure remains, but some key aspects of its mode of operation have been improved to facilitate a fuller participation of all scientists, in particular from developing countries," said IPCC vice-chair Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, climatologist at the Catholic University of Louvain in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.
IPCC will hold its leadership election in October this year
Prior to the Nairobi meeting, some scientists involved in the IPCC argued that the process is too slow and requires too much time from those who volunteer for duty.
More than 2,000 scientists from around the world participate in the process. Some have advocated that the IPCC put less energy into monumental assessments and more into shorter reports that are focused on major scientific and policy debates.
The IPCC will hold its leadership election in October this year, the scientific journal Nature reported.
Candidates include van Ypersele and Thomas Stocker, climate scientist at the University of Bern in Switzerland who led the working group that wrote the climate science portion of the report during the most recent assessment.
Christopher Field, co-chair of the working group on impacts and adaptation for the most recent assessment and an ecologist at the Carnegie Institution in Stanford, California, says he is likely to run as well.
A Padma Bhushan awardee, Pachauri is facing a complaint of alleged harassment by a woman research analyst, who has also lodged a police case.
Citing several texts, emails, and WhatsApp messages as evidence to prove the claim of sexual harassment, the complainant accused Pachauri of harassing her soon after she joined TERI in September 2013.